P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BJP fact-finding team at Patrewala village
Rai Sikhs forced to consume “urine”
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 10
The BJP has threatened to raise the issue of forcing two members of the Rai Sikh community to consume “urine” in the coming session of the state Assembly.

A fact-finding team yesterday visited Patrewala village near here and enquired about the happenings. Mr Swarna Ram, national president of the BJP’s SC/BC Morcha, Mr Rajesh Bagga, president of the state unit of the BJP, and Mr Vijay Sampla, secretary of the state unit of the BJP, alleged in a press conference that police officials posted at Khuikhera-Bodiwala police station had “forced” the complainants to sign a compromise letter with landlords who had done the bizarre act. They blamed a Congress MLA (not of Abohar constituency) for putting pressure on the police to hush up the case. Copies of an affidavit, attested by a Notary Public, were released to the Press by the BJP.

Three persons Gurbux Singh, Piar Singh and Bittu Singh had in the affidavit given to the DSP on November 30, stated that they had come from Bula Rai Uttar village in Jalalabad West subdivision to meet their relatives Malkiat Singh and Balwinder Singh, sons of Harnam Singh and residents of village. On November 27 when the applicants along with their relatives were going to Jandwala Meera Sangla village a sarpanch, who had some dispute with their relatives, and 10 other persons carrying “lathis” waylaid them. Malkiat Singh and Balwinder Singh were brutally beaten up and then forced to accompany the miscreants to their house on their tractor. The miscreants first snatched Rs 10,000 from them and then forced Malkiat Singh and Balwinder Singh to “consume urine” in the presence of many “lathi”-wielding persons to teach them a lesson. Though the miscreants knew that those in their illegal custody had sworn not to consume liquor on religious grounds, it was forcibly put into their mouth, according to the affidavit.

The miscreants got agitated further when the matter was reported to police station at Khuikhera-Bodiwala Peetha. The police on November 28 raided the house of a woman member of the village Panchayat, Ms Mohindro Bai, to arrest Malkiat Singh and Balwinder Singh. They were taken to the police station on the pretext that they were dealing in illicit liquor, opium and arms. They were kept in illegal custody for two days (till November 30).

The applicants alleged that the miscreants had always hated members of the Rai Sikh community. They demanded action against 11 persons identified in the affidavit along with 15 others. The in charge of the police station had described the allegations as totally baseless and fabricated.

The BJP leaders said today that to brass of the Punjab police and Civil Administration in the state must take notice of the shameful incident that endorsed the view that feudalistic atrocities in the region was still prevalent.


Pak declares Billa persona non grata
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, December 10
The government of Pakistan today sent Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, President, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, back to India by declaring him persona non grata, only 24 hours after his arrival at Wagah (Pakistan’s railway station).

He had crossed over to Wagah along with a Hindu jatha of 90 pilgrims in the Samjhauta Express yesterday.

Mr Billa is the first Hindu pilgrim and leader of a Hindu organisation, whose entry has been permanently banned in Pakistan. Ever since the signing of a protocol between the two neighbouring countries no Hindu pilgrim had ever been declared persona non grata.

Though Mr Billa had gone to Pakistan through the rail route, he was forced to leave the country by the road which created unsavoury situation on this side of the international border. The Indian Immigration authorities had to take permission from New Delhi to accommodate Mr Billa, as he was supposed to return by train only.

Mr Billa alleged that the members of Hindu jatha were accorded warm reception at Wagah railways station (Pakistan side ) immediately after they alighted from the train. He said he gave an interview to Pakistan media, including PTV. However, a few minutes later, he was singled out by the Immigration officials of Pakistan and told that Islamabad had banned his entry in May. Earlier, Mr Billa had visited Pakistan in February last year and visited many Hindu shrines along with the jatha .

Earlier, the government of Pakistan had sent back Mr Kanwar Sandhu, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, from Lahore on September 10. Mr Sandhu had gone to Pakistan along with Mr Om Parkash Chautala, Chief Minister of Haryana.

The Hindu Shiv Sena chief was taken to rest house of the Pakistan Tourism at Wagah for night stay. He alleged that he was not offered dinner or breakfast by the Pakistani authorities . Mr Billa said his organisation would gherao Delhi- Lahore bus or Samjhauta Express if the Government of India failed to take up the matter with Pakistan at an appropriate level. Mr Billa who had visited Pakistan twice earlier, said Hindu temples were not being properly maintained. Idols of Hindu gods and goddesses were missing from many temples. He said Pakistan always showed disgrace to Hindu pilgrims.


108-member Pak delegation arrives
Our Correspondent

Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman of the World Punjabi Conference, arrives at the Wagah check post as part of a Pakistani delegation on Friday.
Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman of the World Punjabi Conference, arrives at the Wagah check post as part of a Pakistani delegation on Friday. —Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Wagah, December 10
A delegation from Pakistan comprising 108 persons from different walks of life crossed over to India at the joint check post here to participate in a three-day international seminar on Indo-Pak relations to be held at Kurukshetra University from tomorrow.

The leader of the delegation, Mr Fakhar Zaman, Chairman of the World Punjabi Conference, said a cross section of the Pakistan society, including poets, novelists, journalists, academicians, doctors, businessmen, singers and film actors, had come to interact with their Indian counterparts to sink their differences and usher in an era of mutual trust and goodwill.

Ms Shahnaz Muzammil, poetess, brought her newly written anthology “Ishq Da Diwa” carrying the message of love and peace. The book, originally written in the Shahmukhi, had been translated into Gurmukhi, she said.

Having penned 16 books in Punjabi (Shahmukhi script), Urdu and English she felt “Ishq Da Diwa” would help in strengthening the relations between the two countries.

She said visa restrictions should be done away with and permit system must be introduced to facilitate smooth travelling for the citizens of both countries.

Mr Farhat Abbas Shah (40), Chairman of the Pakistan Writers Council, said he had heard a lot about the literary and poetry work of Indians and had always wanted to visit the country. Having the credit of writing the maximum 46 books on poetry in the world, Mr Shah said it was for the first time that he was visiting India.

Dr Suhail Saqlain, Director, Alama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, said he had several Indian friends while studying in Birmingham (England). It was his first visit to India too. He said he had heard that the Indian medical system was well-organised than Pakistan’s.

Ghulam Mohiyuddin, fondly called as Gullu, who had acted in 300 Punjabi and 100 other Pakistani films, said he had a great regard for the Indian film industry. He lamented although the Indian film CDs were available in Pakistan, those were not allowed to be screened in theatres there.

A cultural troupe of the Haryana Sanskriti Karya Vibhag welcomed the visitors by presenting folk dances Been Separa and Nagara.

Mr Mohammad Ilyas, Animal Husbandry Minister, and Mr Ashok Kumar Arora, Transport Minister, on behalf of the Haryana Government welcomed the delegates by garlanding them.


Lahore Zila Nazim arrives
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
Mian Amer Mahmood, Zila Nazim, Lahore, today acknowledged the historical links between the city of Lahore and Amritsar and said the twin cities could cement their bonds with public participation.

Mr Mahmood, who arrived here en route to Patiala to take back the Punjab game flag to Lahore, was received by the city Mayor, Mr Sunil Dutti and the officiating Deputy Commissioner and Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr K.S.Kang.

While addressing mediapersons here Mr Mahmood said the newly introduced system of administration in Pakistan had improved the functioning and had brought out greater efficiency in the civic affairs.

He said Lahore, with a population of 75 lakh residents, endeavoured to provide better civic amenities and preserve its old character.

He said the second Punjab games would be held in Lahore next year and the following year the games would be hosted by Jalandhar.

Earlier on his arrival, Mr Dutti presented a model of the Golden Temple and gilded sword besides a shawl to Mr Mahmood.


Eruption of water hits hydel project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Mukerian, December 10
The work on the 18 MW hydel power project of the PSEB has come to a standstill due to eruption of water at the proposed foundation of the power houses. Sources told The Tribune that the eruption of water started at the site in September. The water flow from the ground was so strong at that time that within half an hour more than a 100-foot pit dug for the power houses got inundated. The contractors did not even get the time to save their equipment from getting submerged.

Since then the PSEB authorities have been struggling to get the water out of the proposed site for power houses. When this correspondent visited the site, the PSEB authorities had deployed about 40 motors to throw out the water gushing out from the bed of the site. However, the water was still constantly flowing out. Due to the eruption of water in such a large quantity from the ground, the earth in the surrounding areas had also sunk at certain places. The temporary shelters built by the contractors for their labourers had been damaged.

The Chief Engineer, Civil Design and Construction, PSEB, Mr Bhupinder Singh Saberwal, admitted that the work on the project had been hit due to eruption of water. He said as per the original design of the project, the power houses were to be set up at a 220-metre level.

However, the BHEL, that is to supply turbines for the power houses, demanded that the ground level of power houses should be lowered to 219 metres. The consultants to the project, AHEC Roorkee, however, insisted on further geophysical and technical investigations in case the level was to be lowered by one metre.

Once a well was created for testing, the water started gushing out of it. At a meeting held last month, the consultants gave clearance regarding their doubts about unstable soil layers in the area. Now tenders would be called for plugging the flow of water from the area. The work on the project is likely to restart by mid-January, he said.

The experts, however, said that it would be difficult to plug the flow of water in the area. The groundwater level in the area was at 238 metres. The PSEB authorities, implementing the project, have already gone 20 metres below-the-ground water level. Now the siphon has been created bringing ground water from the surrounding area into the pit. It would only be stopped after the groundwater in surrounding area subsides.

The project was conceptualised on the Mukerian hydel canal because of two reasons. There was a design fault in the Mukerian hydel canal at the place where it joins the Beas. Due to excess flow of water in the canal, almost every year cracks appeared at the spot where the canal merged with the Beas. The authorities here had to put in stone rakes to control the situation every year. This led to loss of generation in the Mukerian hydel project.

To tackle the problem, the PSEB authorities decided to build an escape channel and in the process also create an 18 MW power house over it.

The project is, however, likely to be delayed due to the problem.


NRI arrested for murdering wife
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 10
The police has arrested Harpreet Singh, a citizen of Norway, for allegedly killing his wife Amarjit Kaur and then covering up the crime as a case of kidnapping.

Disclosing this today, Mr Amit Prasad, SSP, Barnala, revealed that Harpreet Singh, an NRI, on December 6 informed the police that he was going to his in-laws village with Amarjit Kaur when six persons, riding on scooters, stopped their car and kidnapped his wife.

The SSP further said the Bhadaur police had registered a case under the Sections 366, 341,323, and 140 of the IPC.

Later a panel was constituted by Mr Prasad to investigate the matter. During the investigations, Mr Baldev Singh Chungaan, a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, informed the police that Harpreet Singh had admitted of having killed his wife and had thrown her body into the Bathinda branch canal.

The police has arrested Harpreet Singh. Mr Prasad said the police was trying to trace the body.

According to the SSP, Amarjit had a lot of property and insurance policies in her name, which could be the motive behind the murder. He added that the husband and wife were not having a good relationship.


Probe ordered into sexual exploitation of girl
Tribune News Service

Nangal, December 10
Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Seema Jain today marked an inquiry into the alleged sexual exploitation of a local teenaged girl to the SDM, Anandpur Sahib.

She marked inquiry after taking note of a report in the matter published in The Tribune today. Talking to The Tribune, she said the matter was of serious nature. It was unfortunate that instead of acting promptly in the matter the police was waiting for the poor victim to come to them for lodging an FIR.

The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, has been directed to submit the inquiry report within 15 days, she added.

Arpan, an NGO has threatened to launch an agitation if the police failed to act in the case. The patron of the organisation, Mr Kuldeep Chand, said the police had failed to act against the culprits and locate the girl. Whenever the police authorities were asked about the status of progress in the case, they said bring the complainants to them for making a formal complaint, he added.

About 14-year-old girl of the Raj Nagar locality here was reported to be seven-month pregnant allegedly due to sexual exploitation by certain wards of influential persons.

Her father is in Malaysia. The mother of the girl did not lodge a police complaint against the accused fearing backlash from the culprits.

The NGO had lodged a complaint in this regard.

The victim had allegedly been kidnapped by he culprits.

The matter has also been brought to the notice of the Women’s Commission, the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, Ropar, by the NGO. Mr Kuldeep Chand apprehended threat to the life of the girl in case the investigation into the case was delayed by the police.


Orders asking 7 DSPs to relinquish charge issued
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Three days after Punjab Home Department asked the state’s Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui to “relieve” seven Deputy Superintendents of Police, orders asking them to relinquish charge were today issued.

The officers were recruited under the sportsmen category. Their selection was set aside by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. All the DSPs were fresh recruits. “As such they have been shown the door,” a senior Punjab Police officer said.

Denying the allegations of dilly dally, he said the orders asking them to hand over the charge would be conveyed to the DSPs within a day or so. The DGP, when contacted, said the directions issued by the Home Department had been complied with.

The development is significant as the removed DSPs include Media Advisor to the Chief Minister B.I.S. Chahal’s son Bikram Inderjit Singh Chahal and Ferozepore’s Senior Superintendent of Police Harinder Chahal’s son Gulzar Singh.

The other DSPs proceeded against are Mr Vimmy Singh, Mr Gagan Inder Singh, Major R.S. Ahluwalia, Mr Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Mr Palwinder Singh Cheema. They were selected by a committee headed by Mr Sinha, besides DGP Siddiqui and the Sports Department Secretary.

Challenging their selections, several petitions were filed in the High Court. Claiming to be genuine sportspersons, the petitioners had asserted that their cases for selection were ignored. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was also filed in the matter.

Taking up the case, a three-judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, Mr Justice Rajive Bhalla and Mr Justice Surya Kant, had also ordered the striking down of criteria framed by the selection committee and Punjab Sports Department.

The sources added that the orders directing the removal of nine PPS officers occupying the post of Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) were likely to be issued on or before Monday. Another order directing the removal of a PPS officer occupying a Commandant’s post would be issued simultaneously. Their removal could not be ordered as Principal Secretary (Home) Sanjit Kumar Sinha was out of station.

The sources added that the government would face major embarrassment if orders were not issued by December 13 — the day on which a petition filed under the Contempt of Court Act was scheduled to come up for hearing. Notices have already been issued to Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill, DGP Siddiqui and Mr Sinha on the petition filed by IPS officer Neelabh Kishore.


Raju, Mala can live together, says court
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
The lesbian couple can live together, pronounced the duty magistrate after hearing the pleas of the two girls, Raju and Mala, who had been in the limelight for marrying each other.

The girls were presented in the court of the duty magistrate here late last evening on the basis of the complaints of the parents of the missing girls, who had eloped to get married. The court said the two girls were adults and could live together of their sweet will. No charges could be framed, as the law was silent on the marriage of same-sex couple.

For the time being, both girls will stay together in the house of Raju who had declared that they would continue to live like a married couple and not even death would be able to separate them. They had threatened to commit suicide if they were forced to live apart.

The marriage of the girls has yet to register in their parents’ minds. They are in some kind of shock both by the marriage and by the media exposure. Raju’s mother said she was both like a son and a daughter for them and hoped that things would settle down soon.

The parents of the second girl, Mala, had decided not to accept their marriage. They were said to be thinking of disowning her.

The two local girls, Raju (25) and Mala (22), both residents of Sandhu Colony in the Vijay Nagar area at Batala road, had eloped on November 27 and gone to New Delhi where they got married in a temple. Both girls were fast friends for the past several months and used to stay together most of time.


Scientific census of wild animals at last
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
The Punjab Wildlife Department has woken up to the need of a scientific census of wild animals in the state. Long after the uproar over arbitrary culling of blue bulls and wild boars in Punjab, the Wildlife Department has decided to go in for an accurate counting of these animals before finalising the proposal of issuing permits to shoot them with the objective of culling.

Census option for Punjab

Wildlife experts feel the best way to determine the exact numbers of wild boars and blue culls in Punjab is through hoof mark counting and matching. Hoof prints of wild boar and blue bull can be collected with the help of a tracing paper or by using liquefied plaster which is filled in the ground so that the hoof gets embedded into it and forms an impression on drying up. Details like time of collection of the print, the size of the print, the length of the stride of the animal can be noted at that time. If simultaneous collection of hoof prints is done, prints and data collected can be matched yielding a scientific census. The method has just one shortcoming — the animal leaves a different mark on different surfaces and while traveling at different speeds.

The department has written to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, seeking expertise in the matter, besides inviting suggestions from 22 wildlife wardens in the state. The wardens have been asked to submit views on the most suitable method of census for the state. The letters were sent out early last month and the responses are being processed before a final decision on the matter is taken.

Confirming the news, Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab A.S. Dogra, said the census was being conducted to reach the exact number of animals that need to be culled in the interest of farmers. “The process has been initiated and we are hopeful of quick results. We have asked our wardens to suggest the ways of counting the animals. We are also seeking help from the Wildlife Institute of India.”

Meanwhile, wildlife experts feel the most important aspect of the census is to eliminate the possibility of inflated figures. “Those that may have a vested interest in showing inflated or less than actual numbers of animals should be kept away from the process,” said a wildlife warden. Regarding ways of counting, there are three widely used ones: by visual sighting, by taking pictures with help of infra red cameras and by studying the hoof marks on the ground. Sometimes a combination of these has to be used.

In case of Punjab most experts feel the best way would be to conduct a zone-wise census. While the blue bull can be easily counted by visual sighting in areas where it behaves in a less shy manner, in others where it behaves like a nocturnal animal, a different method needs to be adopted. Wild boar is extremely shy and its counting demands a very sensitive method.


Probe begins into misbehaviour case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 10
The strike by revenue and ministerial staff in protest against the alleged misbehaviour with Naib-Tehsildar-cum-Duty Magistrate of Phagwara Seema Singh by President of the All-India Anti-Corruption Forum P.S. Passi entered its fourth day today. The protesters burnt an effigy of Mr Passi at Gol Chowk on GT Road and blocked traffic for half an hour.

Meanwhile, SP (H) Shami Kumar began probe into the case by recording statements of the parties concerned and public. It was preceded by a heated argument over the holding of probe in-camera.

Mr Shami Kumar assured the protesters that the probe would be impartial. He agreed to a proposal that a collective probe should be conducted in full public view. However, he said he would have to record statements of Ms Seema Singh, Tehsildar Hardip Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Chanchal Sharma, Reader of Tehsildar, Mr Amrik Singh Bedi, registry clerk, Avtar Singh, sevadar, and Paramjit Singh, gunman.

The protesters stormed into the court office of the SP (H) when he took the Tehsildar and the Naib Tehsildar into the room. They made both of them to come out and shouted slogans: ‘Pehley griftari, phir inquiry’ (First arrest Mr Passi and then conduct the probe).

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Shami Kumar said he would record statements of public as well and submit the report to Kapurthala SSP S.K. Asthana at the earliest.

However, speakers at the rally termed the probe as a ruse of the police for buying time to save Mr Passi from arrest. There was no work at the courts of the SDM and Tehsil.


Sikh clergy refuse to pardon Giani Gurdit Singh

Amritsar, December 10
The Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib today refused to rescind the edict under which Giani Gurdit Singh, author of controversial book, Mundavni, was declared tankhaiya The clergy also alleged that the proceedings of the Akal Takht were tampered with in the past which was an 'anti-panthic' act.

The Sikh high priests of Patna Sahib, including Jathedar Iqbal Singh, in a written statement faxed to TNS here, alleged that the tampering of the proceedings forced Giani Rattan Singh, deputy jathedar, Hazoor Sahib, to stay away from the meetings of the Akal Takht.

Maintaining that all takhts command equal status, the Sikh clericals asked Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti whether he considered himself 'supreme'. He said Jathedar Vedanti had 'violated' the maryada of 'Panch Pardhani' by refusing to appear before Takht Patna Sahib to submit his clarification.


Relatives of Indians jailed in Pak stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, December 10
Parents and elder brothers of nearly 78 detainees from Doaba region, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu today staged a dharna outside a gurdwara demanded immediate release of their kin, who have been but behind bars of Lahore and Baluchistan. They said idea of organising sports and cultural events won’t bear fruit until those languishing in Pakistani jails were released.

Of various detainees whose release was demanded, a few belonged to Kapurthala. Mr Satpal Lahoria, a resident of Nadala village, said his son, Narinder Pal (22), had gone to Lebanon about one-and-a-half year ago. “From there he tried to go to Greece with the help of a travel agent, who duped him. He was caught in Turkey from where he was brought to Iran, Baluchistan and then put behind Kot Lakhpat Jail of Lahore.”

The tale of younger brother of Mr Gurnam Singh of Dhilwan and son of Mr Piara Singh of Brian village is similar. They were caught in Turkey while going to Greece.

The families of 25 detainees who are languishing in Much Jail of Baluchistan are even disturbed as their sons and younger brothers were being served cow’s meat and not allowed to wear woollen clothes during winters.

The families of the detainees said they had met the MPs, MLAs and ministers of their respective areas for help. They said they had even urged the Prime Minister to intervene.


Pak prisoner repatriated
Our Correspondent

Wagah, December 10
A Pakistan national, Rangila Bi, was repatriated to Pakistan by the Indian Government through the joint check post here today.

Rangila, resident of Fatahpur village of Kota district, was arrested by the Army for crossing over to the Indian territory through Poonch sector three months back. She is said to have advertently crossed due to mental stress.

Initially, she was kept in Poonch jail and later lodged in Jammu prison.


SGPC takes control of 2 gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has taken over the control of two historical gurdwaras — Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh, near Bhikhiwind, and Guru Ki Masit ( Hargobindpur ) — which had remained under the control of Nihang Ajit Singh Poohla, who is currently behind bars.

The Poohla Eviction Committee, led by Col G.S.Sandhu (retd), said that akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib would be arranged at Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh tomorrow morning . A heavy police force is likely to be deployed around gurdwara to avoid any clash.

Col Sandhu said Baba Poolha had taken control of the gurdwara in 1982 but no government showed courage to get the same vacated. Earlier, the SGPC had taken back the management of Gurdwara Guru Ki Masit from Nihangs in a peaceful operation . 


Poor girl gets free heart surgery
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 10
With a hole in her heart, Seema, the 11-year-old daughter of a Himachal Pradesh based labourer, did not know a month ago whether she would be able to go to her school again and lead a normal life.

But her dream has almost been achieved as a local heart care and research centre has performed an open heart surgery on her and that too without charging any fee from her poor parents.

After her successful surgery, Seema would not only be able to play with her friends, but also attend school which she last attended six months back due to sudden deterioration in her condition.

The parents of Seema — Lachman Dass and Manorma — who hail from a small village in Kanra district had almost lost hope of getting their daughter, who they had adopted when she was one-year-old, treated as all their efforts to generate funds for her treatment had gone futile.

“We had even given advertisements in newspapers but nobody was forthcoming with money needed for her operation,” said Lachman Dass.

Their hopes were raised when they came in contact with a Palampur based NGO run by Mr Ghanshayam, who talked to Dr Vijay Mahajan, the MD of the local Tagore Heart Care and Research Centre, who in turn, offered to operate the child free of cost.

“Now the child is okay. She can do any work,” said Dr Mahajan.


SAD to organise nagar kirtan on Dec 18
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 10
A 'nagar kirtan' mainly comprising youths would be kicked off from Anandpur Sahib on December 18 to mark the tercentenary of Sahibzadas’ martyrdom. Ludhiana MP and Punjab Youth Akali Dal chief Sharanjeet Dhillon said this while addressing a press conference here today.

Mr Dhillon said the 'nagar kirtan', about 18-km-long, would reach Chamkaur Sahib on same night via 'parivar vichhoda'. A youth conference on Sahibzadas' martyrdom would be organised there on the next day besides sports day.

Mr Dhillon flayed the state government for appointing "undeserving" persons on the posts of DSPs in sports quota while ignoring sportspersons of Punjab. He said Indo-Pak Punjab Games being held in Patiala were a mere "publicity stunt" of the Chief Minister. He said needy and poor rely heavily on civil hospitals for their treatment, but medicines were not available at these hospitals and people were being "openly looted". He said the state government was collecting taxes from every possible source, but there was hardly any development in the state. "I wonder where has the money gone," he quipped.

He said the state's roads were in bad shape and 25 to 30 persons die daily in road accidents. He said the Congress had hatched a conspiracy to malign the image of the SAD and its chief Parkash Singh Badal, but now Amarinder Singh's son was facing corruption charges. He said the state's farmers had to buy DAP manure in black and cotton growers were suffering huge losses owing to the state government's "anti-farmer" policies. He said the SAD would soon launch a campaign to oust the Congress government in Punjab. The state government was charging for power, but had failed in providing the same to farmers. He criticised the government for discontinuing various schemes that the Akali regime had launched for Dalits in the state. Later, Mr Dhillon held a meeting with party activists in connection with preparations for forthcoming tercentenary of Sahibzadas' martyrdom.


Mann endorses Tamil Nadu’s move on seer
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 10
Former MP and president of the SAD (Amritsar), Simranjit Singh Mann said that the government should adopt the same yardstick and attitude while dealing with the Shankaracharya case which was adopted in the case of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Mr Mann was talking to the mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today.

He said that his party fully endorsed the move of the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu to put the Shankaracharya behind bars as no one was above law. He said that the motive behind the Shankaracharya's arrest was to create unrest among the public throughout the country but the move, which was planned by BJP leader, L.K. Advani, did not yield the desired results.

Mr Mann said that the Congress government in Punjab had failed on all fronts. He said that despite the fact that the Congress-led UPA government was at its back, Capt Amarinder Singh had failed to capitalise on that and miseries of the farmers in the state had increased.

While advocating the opening of the Hussainiwala border with Pakistan, Mr Mann said that the border, if opened, will ameliorate the lot of more than 30 lakh people of the Malwa belt, but regrettably no MP from Punjab had raised this issue in Parliament. He said that our agriculture produce had a ready market in Pakistan. “In lieu of exporting wheat, rice and other agricultural commodities to Pakistan, we should get electricity from across the border,” he added.

He criticised the Akali Dal and BJP's move to stage a walk out from Parliament in protest against the scrapping of POTA against the minorities by the UPA government.


Seminar on human rights held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has been working to dispense justice and equality to all by ensuring the protection and implementation of their human rights.

While stating this in his address delivered at a seminar organised by the PSHRC, Mr B.C. Rajput, member, said the PSHRC had been working for the progress of society by ensuring inexpensive and early justice to the affected people.

Mr Rajput, who presided over a meeting of district officials before the seminar, said it was moral duty of the police to have soft corner for general public, adding, that the main aim of the seminar was to educate people about the existence of the commission and to tell them that any body could approach it in connection with his or her grievances and to get justice. PSHRC secretary R.C. Nayyar, Deputy Commissioner K.A.P. Sinha, Municipal Commissioner D.K. Tiwari, SSP Kapil Dev, were among others who addressed the gathering at the seminar.


Air Defence Regiment celebrates raising day
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, December 10
The Air Defence Regiment today celebrated its raising day by organising a blood donation camp. About 200 jawans of the regiment donated blood.

The commanding officers of the regiment were among those who donated the blood in today’s camp.

The camp was organised by the Armed Forces Transfusion Centre, Delhi. Col Sunil Arora under whose supervision the camp was organised said their Delhi centre collects about 1,000 units of blood per month.

However, that amount of blood meets only 60 to 70 per cent of the total demand of the armed forces hospitals in Delhi. The shortage is met by exchange scheme in which the family of patients are requested to donate the blood.

When asked about the detection of AIDS patients among blood donors in Army Colonel Arora said percentage of HIV positive patients in the Army was meagre.

However, since the Army was also a part of the society some AIDS cases were detected among soldiers.

On an average four of the 1,000 blood donors from Army are tested positive.

The infectious blood is destroyed and if desired the results of pathological tests are revealed to donors.


Rallies held against use of intoxicants
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 10
More than 20,000 students of different schools along with sarpanches, panches and members of various non-government organisations, carrying banners and placards against the use of intoxicants, participated in nearly 200 rallies against drug abuse which were organised by the district administration and district Red Cross Society jointly in all the 181 villages and urban areas simultaneously in Faridkot district yesterday.

Flagging off a district-level rally from Qila Mubarak here, Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, who himself led it through the main streets of the town, said that a special plan had been chalked out to check the activities of drug peddlers in the district. It is likely to be implemented in a few days. "A separate strategy has also been chalked out with the help of the police to check the sale of narcotics," the Deputy Commissioner said.

He issued a warning to chemists not to sell intoxicating medicines otherwise serious action would be taken against them.

He said a month-long treatment was given to drug addicts at the local Red Cross De-Addiction Centre free of cost. While laying stress on conducting more such seminars and rallies to make people aware of the affects of intoxicants, Mr Pawan Preet, general secretary, CPI, Faridkot district, urged both the Central and state governments to frame special laws to check unemployment and population growth. Criticising leaders of various political parties who freely utilised liquor and various other intoxicants to lure voters during elections in the country to achieve political gains, the CPI leader demanded stringent measures to stop this practice. — TNS


PM may visit gurdwara, says DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 10
On the request of the Government of Punjab, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, is likely to join the tri-centenary commemoration of the martyrdom of Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh from December 23 to to 26 at Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a meeting of district officials, political parties and other social organisations called to review the arrangements for the commemoration of historical event.

More than 20 lakh devotees are expected to pay obeisance at the gurdwara. The government has sanctioned Rs 3.46 crore for various development schemes. The four memorial gates will also be ready by December 23.

Mr Ahluwalia, today issued prohibitory orders by which all officials and officers have been restrained from taking leave till the completion of the event.

All heads of the departments have been directed to submit daily attendance report of their employees to the Deputy Commissioner.

The District Magistrate has also ordered that no shop, stall, conference or community kitchens will be allowed on sides of the roads from the Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Gurudwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib and towards Roza Sharif. He also banned the sale of liquor and ordered the closure of wine shops during the event.

He also banned the carrying of weapons, playing of loudspeakers, swings, circus, skill games, amusement games, gambling stalls and sale of intoxicants. He said the event would be observed strictly in a religious spirit.

Mr Shiv Kumar SSP, told media persons that the police had made foolproof security arrangement for the Jor Mela. He said more than 3000 police personnel would be deputed for the mela duty. He said 12 police nakas, eight check barriers, 13 parking places, 10 observation posts would be erected.

He said the Mela site had been divided in four sectors and 1 SP and two DSPs would supervise in their respective sectors. Four information centers would also be set up where the police would provide all type of assistance to the pilgrims.


Dalit girl’s marriage: SDM records statements
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 10
Taking serious notice of the incident in which a Dalit girl’s marriage was disallowed at a Bahona village gurdwara, the district administration has swung into action.

Treading cautiously, the district administration today sent the SDM, Mr Gurnam Singh Gill, to Bahona village where he held a meeting with both the groups at Gurdwara Sahib Chardi Kala. He recorded statements of the girl’s mother Jagtar Kaur, who is also the village sarpanch, father Preetam Singh and the gurdwara committee chief Rajinder Pal Singh. Talking to The Tribune here today, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, said that the SDM would submit his report to him tomorrow on the basis of which the future course of action would be decided.

Earlier, the District Welfare Officer had submitted a report to him after visiting the village. The DC said that the welfare officer’s report had also been handed over to the SDM for cross check.

Sources said that during the meeting with the SDM, the gurdwara committee president and other committee members said they didn’t stop the Dalit girl’s family from going ahead with her “anand karaj” at the gurdwara. Mr Rajinder Pal Singh reportedly said that still he was willing to apologise to the girl’s family.

Interestingly, the chief of Baba Jeevan Singh Gurdwara, which is Dalits' separate gurdwara, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, said that it was they who were against the girl’s marriage at Gurdwara Sahib Chardi Kala, as more and more Dalit families would have started holding “anand karaj” there and it would have affected the offerings at their gurdwara.

Speculations were rife that the two groups were heading for a compromise that would probably put an end to the controversy.

Meanwhile, Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, Simranjit Singh Mann has also sent a party team to the village to investigate into the matter.


5 Markfed employees suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Five Markfed employees, including a senior branch officer, were today placed under suspension by the corporation’s Managing Director S.S.Channy for allegedly indulging in large scale bungling. The action was initiated on the basis of an interim report submitted by the Markfed’s flying squad.

The suspended employees include Patran-based senior branch officer D.N. Jindal, along with field officers Hakam Singh, Surjit Singh and B.C.Singla. Patiala’s Technical Officer Surinder Kumar was also suspended.

The Managing Director also ordered the charge-sheeting of Patiala’s district. manager following alleged detection of “large scale bungling and shortages in wheat stocks at Patran branch office”.

The sources in Markfed revealed that shortages were unearthed following special checking by the flying squad of Markfed’s foodgrain branch. The operation had revealed a shortage of 12,055 wheat bags weighing approximately 6027.50 quintals.

They added that large-scale shortage was detected out of damaged wheat stocks being issued to private parties under government’s disposal scheme as “wheat unfit for human consumption”.

Talking to the media, Mr Channy reiterated that no leniency would be shown towards employees indulging in malpractices and causing shortage of stocks with malafide intentions.


Census medals given for outstanding work
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Over 480 enumerators and supervisors from all over Punjab were awarded President of India’s Census Medals for outstanding contribution during census operations in the state in 2001. The medals were presented by Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Gen (retired) S.F. Rodrigues.

As many as 50,000 enumerators and supervisors were deployed for enumerating 243 lakh people in about 34 lakh households in Punjab alone. The awardees included Deputy Commissioners, besides municipal corporation Commissioners, appointed as Principal Census Officers during the 2001 census operations.

Additional Deputy Commissioners, along with Sub-Divisional Magistrates, tehsildars, block development and panchayat officers, a host of school teachers, along with government and local bodies staff, were also honoured.

Addressing the gathering during a function organised at Shivalik Public School, Gen Rodrigues exhorted government executives and officials to work together in every sphere of activity for making India a vibrant and strong nation.

He said the successful completion of census operations in the past years demonstrated commitment. The spirit and dynamism shown by the enumerators must continue for the progress of the country, he added.

Describing the census as a “gigantic operation”, Gen Rodrigues said it required hard work, commitment and dedication. The people involved in the exercise deserved praise.


4 arrested in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 10
The district police today arrested four members of a family, including a woman, on the allegation of murder of a newly wed woman for bringing inadequate dowry.

According to the police, a case under Section 302-B of the IPC has been registered following recovery of the body of Suman from her Kishanpur residence last evening.

The police said that the husband of the victim, Naresh, raised the alarm last evening after he found the body of his wife hanging from a fan.

Naresh reportedly told the neighbourers that his wife had committed suicide. Subsequently, the police was informed. The body was later sent to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

The case got a twist this morning when the sister of the deceased, Sarita, who came from Delhi, alleged in a complaint to the police that her sister was suffering at the hands of her in-laws for bringing inadequate dowry. She further said that Suman was married to Naresh on February 7 and had been facing harassment since then.

The police swung into action and arrested Naresh, his father Prem Singh, Heera Devi and Dinesh.


School run by student gets offer of help
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
Ajanta Senior Secondary School here has offered to manage Government Elementary School, Soyemajra (Ropar), as a gesture towards the girl students who have been without teacher for the past few months.

The Principal of the school Mr Vikrant Kapoor, while offering the services of his school, said he was taken aback by The Tribune story published yesterday which reflected the callous attitude of the State Education Department in transferring the only teacher in the middle of the session while the teacher posted in her place failed to join duty.

Mr Kapoor has written a letter to the District Education Officer that the school can provide teachers for the Soyemajra school as the students had been deprived of education and left in lurch. He added that the school would not only provide more teachers, it will even manage the school without any financial gains. The Principal has also marked a copy of the letter to the state education authorities.


End brick-kiln owners’ woes, urge engineers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 10
The Association of Practising Civil Engineers today urged the Punjab Government to immediately intervene and end the ongoing strike by the brick kiln owners by ensuring supply of fly ash to the brick kilns, giving them loans at subsidised rates to bring in mechanisation and exempting bricks from sales tax.

A meeting of the association, which met here today under the presidentship of Mr P S Sandhu, said the prices of first-class bricks had risen to Rs 2,500 per 1000 tonnes against the normal price of Rs 1450 per tonne. the association noted that this had forced the closure of most of the development works in the state with new building projects being delayed. It said private works at present were using third-class bricks.

The association said it recommended the use of fly ash as it would convert fly ash which was a waste product of the thermal power stations of the state. Sandhu said since the fly ash which was to be used to produce. bricks was calcinated, they would be more economical to produce. The mixing of mud and fly ash mechanically would result in a more homogenous mixture and ensure better brick quality, he said.

Mr Sandhu said since bricks were the prime construction material, it’s non-availability was hampering the livelihood of a large number of engineers and architects besides dealers of steel, cement and even stone crushers.

He said even though the situation was becoming alarming, the state government was not taking any step to solve the crisis. He said the government could use innovative methods like free supply of fly ash and giving loans at subsidised rates to the brick-kiln owners to pursue them to adopt the new technology.

The association said some brick-kiln operators were making use of the strike to clear their old stocks at abnormally high prices. It demanded that since bricks were a prime construction material, these should be declared an essential commodity and the District Food and Supply Corporation which issues licences to brick-kilns should fix the rate of bricks as per the latest price fixed by the Punjab Public Works (Building and Roads) department.

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